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Pallone & Doyle Inquire About FCC Oversight Hearing To Be Held By End of July

Jul 12, 2017
Press Release
“The Committee should not be working to shield the FCC from having to explain its push to install such unpopular policies”

Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and Communications and Technology (CAT) Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Doyle (D-PA) sent a letter today to Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and CAT Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) urging them to follow through on Chairman Blackburn’s assurances – both public and private – that the subcommittee would hold a public oversight hearing for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by the end of July.

The letter comes as the FCC is on the verge of adopting new policies of enormous consequence, particularly the Commission’s efforts to roll back consumers’ net neutrality protections. Americans also remain concerned as to how the FCC will safeguard their data online after Congress rolled back the FCC’s consumer privacy protections and its data security rules.   

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has yet to testify before any House committee in the 115th Congress. In stark contrast, by the end of the first July in the 114th Congress, President Obama’s FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had testified on Capitol Hill eight times, including six times in front of House committees. At the time, then CAT Subcommittee Walden assured Ranking Members’ Pallone and Doyle that the multiple FCC hearings were not political, and in fact essential for oversight.

“The leadership of this Committee has assured us in public and in private on numerous occasions that the FCC will testify during the month of July, but no hearings have been scheduled,” Pallone and Doyle wrote to Chairmen Walden and Blackburn.  “This Committee has an obligation to perform oversight on behalf of the American people and ensure that the American people understand the consequences of the FCC’s actions.  The Committee should not be working to shield the FCC from having to explain its push to install such unpopular policies.” 

Full text of the letter can be found below:

The Honorable Greg Walden

Chairman

Committee on Energy and Commerce

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515   

The Honorable Marsha Blackburn

Chairman

Subcommittee on Communications and Technology

Committee on Energy and Commerce

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairmen Walden and Blackburn:

We write to inquire about the progress that is being made by the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology in scheduling an oversight hearing for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by the end of this month.  As you know, Chairman Blackburn assured us on June 21 that the Subcommittee would have an oversight hearing by the end of July.  This hearing could not come too soon, considering the FCC has not appeared before the Committee—or any House committee—to testify a single time this year.  That stands in stark contrast to the Chairman of the FCC under President Obama testifying on Capitol Hill eight times by the end of July last Congress, including six times in front of House committees.  At the time, you assured us that these ongoing hearings were not political, but were in fact an integral part of our oversight role.

Since President Trump designated Chairman Pai in January, the FCC has taken a number of actions that fundamentally affect consumers’ security, opportunity, and connectivity.  Americans remain concerned as to how the FCC will safeguard their data online after Congress rolled back the FCC’s consumer privacy protections and its data security rules.  The FCC is now on the verge of adopting new policies of enormous consequence, particularly the Commission’s efforts to roll back consumers’ net neutrality protections.  This Committee has an obligation to perform oversight on behalf of the American people and ensure that the American people understand the consequences of the FCC’s actions.  The Committee should not be working to shield the FCC from having to explain its push to install such unpopular policies.

The leadership of this Committee has assured us in public and in private on numerous occasions that the FCC will testify during the month of July, but no hearings have been scheduled.  The Subcommittee has gone too long without hearing from the leaders at the FCC, and we are concerned that the Subcommittee is abdicating its oversight responsibilities altogether.  Therefore, we implore you to inform us as soon as possible about the status of scheduling an FCC oversight hearing.

Sincerely,

Frank Pallone, Jr.

Ranking Member

Mike Doyle

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Communications and Technology

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